Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Philadelphia Story

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Love Sculpture.jpg

Did something we hadn’t done in 29 years, and spent the weekend in Philadelphia. Since I now go through the city of brotherly love just about every week, I thought it would be nice to get off the train and see what was what.

The real impetus was the Van Gogh show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Go there now. It was simply amazing . . . I was unprepared for the emotional impact of seeing those paintings up close.

What else was there? Surprisingly good pub food, the most amazing waffles ever, and a great trip through the Mütter Museum. We learned that threatening to touch a teenager with a dessicated arm is a VERY effective parenting tool. Wish we’d known that years ago. And that there are diseases I didn’t yet know to be afraid of.

Walked for miles along city streets and the river trail, took subways, took the train. And listened to an organ concert in a department store. Can you have a better weekend? I don’t think so.

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Not fitting in the neighborhood

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I’ve been lucky enough to have Hoxsie’s educational chewing gum featured frequently on All Over Albany’s “What’s Up In the Neighborhood” feature. I appreciate the attention from Mary and Greg, and it gives me a nice way to graze through some other area blogs that I may not read often or be aware of. But with all the local blogs and tweets I’ve read lately (yeah, I’m on Twitter — I’m hip to the 21st century, baby), I’m coming to realize that there are some things that people around here care about, deeply and importantly, that I really just don’t get.

  • Let’s not even start with Trader Joe’s, because it will just lead to a long-form rant I’ve been working up to for a long time about corporations sucking the wealth out of our communities, , and how we need to be creating wealth, not jobs, and how every chain we welcome into town and wait in line to hand our money to is one more flesh wound that destroys our . . . okay, I’ll stop now. To be resumed.
  • But even without that, there’s a vigorous discussion of what is the best grocery store in the Capital District, and it’s a discussion I just don’t get. Are there things I wish I could get in my local store? Yes. Am I willing to drive all over three counties to find those things? No. So it doesn’t matter what people think is the supreme grocery store, because to me, the only store that counts is the one that’s within five minutes of my home.
  • There’s also been an unbelievable amount of ink spilled over the closing of the Miss Albany Diner, which apparently was a very special place etc., etc. Don’t know, never ate there. Or any of the other places that people are writing about. You people go out to eat way, WAY more than we do. Eleven of the neighborhood blogs were about restaurants. How do you do it? It’s expensive.
  • Also, I’ve lived in this area for 39 of my 51 years. I’ve never seen or even heard of these mini hot dogs that you claim to be a Capital Region delicacy. I think you’re just fucking with me on that one.
  • I freely admit to being willfully ignorant of sports that aren’t bicycle based, and I have to squint to remember who was in the Super Bowl last week. I do get some level of fandom. But I don’t get the part where you think “we” won. Massively paid, massively doped athletes won (over other massively paid, massively doped athletes). It was probably exciting to watch, but you watched it from your couch or barstool. You probably don’t ever play the game you’re watching. Keep it in perspective. (I don’t hear cycle racing fans saying, “We sure showed those Omega-Pharma-Lotto bastards!” It’s not that kind of sport.)

Don’t misunderstand . . . I’m not trying to put anybody else down. I’m just saying I feel a bit apart from my fellow local bloggers.

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The Hudson by train

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The Hudson River along the Amtrak corridor from Carl Johnson on Vimeo.

Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve ridden Amtrak down the east bank of the Hudson River a couple of hundred times, looking out at the same views, and almost never having a camera. It’s one of the most scenic rides in America, and I hadn’t a single good shot of it. Once I tried to get some shots on my compact digital but the tint of the windows destroyed the color balance, and they were worthless. So one sunny day last fall I remembered to bring my D70 and snapped out the window on the way down. Of course, the sunny didn’t last and by the time I got to Poughkeepsie the light was so gray and flat that I gave up. But here for amusement and posterity are some of the scenes along the Amtrak rail corridor between Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie. (The musical accompaniment, it should go without saying, is not mine, and subject to original copyright.)